After two long years of Covid isolation and an exponential increase in mental health and addiction disorders, therapists and clinicians need a well-deserved break. Unfortunately, tons of paperwork, emergency room visits, office consults, group meetings, and online training seminars don’t leave much extra time.
In response, addiction recovery center professionals throughout Utah have come together to launch the 2022 Utah Fall Conference & Symposium: Addiction Disorders and Mental Health Treatment. The conference is set to run from Sept. 15th through Sept. 17th at the Zermatt Hotel & Spa in Midway, Utah. It will offer mental health and addiction experts a plethora of training opportunities on cutting-edge practices and treatments and activities designed to promote networking and relaxation.
One of the main drivers behind creating this conference is to offer professionals critical opportunities to learn and connect with their peers in person and in a fun, relaxed setting, said Rebecca Hedin, conference director.
Clinicians and therapists must get a minimum number of continuing education credits each year and, unfortunately, much of that training has been limited to online platforms. As a result, industry professionals have missed making face-to-face meaningful connections as they build their skills. “We are so genuinely excited about this conference,” said Hedin. “I think it will coincide beautifully with what they’ve already been doing to stay up-to-date on their training.”
The 2022 conference is the first of what organizers hope will be a “long-standing Utah” gathering of experts dealing directly with mental health and addiction, explained Hedin. It is different from the Utah Fall Conference, an educational conference in St. George, Utah, that began in 2012 and was canceled for the last two years due to the pandemic.
Not knowing when or if the original Utah Fall Conference would return to St. George and seeing the need for a similar professional gathering further north, Preston Dixon, COO of the addiction recovery center Renaissance Ranch, began reaching out to his peers in the industry to get something started.
“All of these directors and clinicians deal with hard things every day. As much as you try to leave them at the office, a few are bound to come home with you,” she continued. “[We wanted a] conference where people can go and relax and be who they are again; and still be learning new things and be surrounded by people in the industry.”
Many of Dixon’s initial contacts liked the idea of putting together their own conference and immediately signed on as planning committee board members and sponsors. In the early stages, said Hedin, news of the meeting mainly spread by word of mouth. “Now that we have the agenda nailed down, we’re going to focus more on marketing. We’ve got flyers, contact lists, Facebook and Instagram pages, and a website all up and running. We’re hoping to touch people all over the nation,” she said.
And it looks like their efforts are paying off. Hedin said that the gathering already has attendees from all over Utah, many of the western states, and even as far away as Florida.
Hedin said that what has come together in terms of sponsors, speakers, and exhibitors in just a few short months is nothing short of a marvel. “It’s a neat little journey we’ve all been on to get this conference put together,” she added. “Everybody listens to everybody [and] everyone’s doing their best because we all have a common goal.”
Among the featured speakers are Dr. Hans Watson, DO, who will provide training on his groundbreaking PTSD treatment approach, and Dr. Judith L. Landau, MD, DPM, LMFT. Landau will lead a workshop on Transitional Family Sculpting, a mode of therapy that requires family members to re-enact a past event during a session.
Dr. Kevin McCauley, a leader in the addiction treatment industry, will also present the latest neuroscience research findings. McCauley served as a Naval Flight Surgeon and helped numerous pilots return to flight duty after undergoing drug and alcohol rehab treatment. He is an opiate substance abuse survivor and regularly gives lectures all over the globe on addiction and recovery. Currently, he directs Program Services at New Roads Behavioral Health in Sandy and Provo, Utah.
Other presenters will focus on a host of emerging topics, including new trends in psychopharmacology and using traditional Native American practices to improve treatment outcomes.
After a full day of speakers, attendees will want to relax and unwind, and this conference has that covered, too, said Hedin. “We have a comedian coming, there’s a golf tournament, and we will be meeting at this beautiful mountain resort.” And even though attendees will still be able to stay connected with WiFi, she continued, “you don’t have a lot of cell reception up here, which gives you time to stop, be present with what you’re doing, listen to the presentations, and take time to reset.”
Training, mingling, and entertainment in a quaint mountain setting? Say less!